Safiétou Seck, fashion designer

Art Kelen
4 min readFeb 17, 2018
Crédit photo Véronique Virsube Chalier

Could you please introduce yourself?

I am Safiétou Seck a Senegalese woman living now in Senegal. I am a stylist. I have a clothing brand: Sarayaa. I always loved fashion and fashion design but, having growing up in an environment where business related to fashion wasn’t accepted, I studied economics. I have a bachelor’s degree in Economics and a Master’s degree in Business Management that I have obtained in United States where I have been living for 11 years. Passionate by the world of fashion, after my studies, I opened a boutique in Georgetown, an upscale neighbourhood of Washington DC. The idea was to give the possibility to foreigner’s designers, especially Africans, to be shown in US.

In 2003, I came back in Dakar. I wanted to start all over again but from Senegal. Especially with the opportunities offered by RAGOA an American law allowing some African countries, including Senegal, to export their products to the US. My business didn’t work as planned so I had to start a “regular” job as an economist at the embassy of The United-States and have been working there for 7 years.

I created SARAYAA in 2014 realizing my childhood dream after a click I got in 2013 which made me change my journey definitely. April 2015 was the opening of Sarayaa.

How would you define Sarayaa?

It takes me a long time to find the name Sarayaa. I wanted a Senegalese typically name and easily pronounceable. Sarayaa is a gold region in the South-east of Senegal.

Sarayaa designs are for modern women. It is a premium brand that I define as a tradi-modern. My brand thus embodies the modern and traditional fashion through the African fabrics and the modern styles. In fact, Sarayaa is intended for women of the World whether they are African, American, Asian or European.

Regarding the materials, I prefer the woven loincloth because I love it. I mix its with other fabrics but there is always a touch of kilt woven in my designs. It is the only fabric that is of African origin. We also use fabrics like Wax, even if it is not but this creation is very much inspired by Africa. The names of the outfits are mainly African inspired.

What is your inspiration?

My origins and my career will nourish my creations. My father is from Senegal, my mother is Guinean and from Martinique. I have travelled a lot and I lived in different countries. So there is a lot of diversity in my career path that influences my inspirations but also my moods, my family and my friends. I love the originality and the innovation, creating clothes that go out of the ordinary. The colours of fabric can also inspire me. They can guide me in the choice of a style.

How do you work?

The work is exclusively carried out in Dakar from the drawing to the realization. We work as a traditional team so it’s not a large scale production. We prefer exclusive shapes, colours, styles and the quantities. I am inspired by fashion and trends even if I wish to be myself and would like to be on the leading edge of design.

Sarayaa wants to be a global brand that touches women of all nationalities. That is why I organize private sales events in several countries and I have participated in international fairs.

In the future, Sarayaa designs will be available online.

Do you have a favourite creation?

It is difficult to make a choice, but the outfits that I love are the tunic Diegane (which original name is Sere, an ethnic group in Senegal and means the one who possesses, the one who is rich) and the poncho Ayoola (which means joy in the wealth). I like these outfits because they show the beauty of the woven loincloth and because they highlight feminity, the beauty and power a woman can embody.